Push Logistics in a Communications Degraded/Communications Denied Environment

BY LT. CMDR. KEN GILMORE, SC, USN, U.S. FLEET FORCES COMMAND
LT. CMDR. SCOTT WILSON, SC, USN, NAVAL SUPPLY SYSTEMS COMMAND

“Since the end of the Cold War, the naval logistics force has progressively traded away combat effectiveness and survivability in the pursuit of peacetime efficiency and cost-saving solutions. As a result, an increasingly dangerous security environment threatens our ability to sustain protracted combat operations in a contested maritime environment. To meet this challenge, the Navy must adopt a warfighting approach to logistics support incorporating the fundamentals of maneuver warfare: understanding commander’s intent, decentralized C2, and bold innovation” – principles reaffirmed in the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO’s) 2016 Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority. As such, our peacetime logistics force must be agile, distributed and maneuverable in quantity and quality to deliver responsive, uninterrupted sustainmaent, to any joint force maritime component commander.

Food service is of no exception. Current afloat naval subsistence support is overly reliant on ship-to-shore information exchange. Future processes and policies for subsistence provisioning assume traditional data transmission via Food Service Management (FSM) and STORESWEB will not be operational in communications degraded/denied environment (C2D2E). Therefore, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) sponsored a continuous process improvement (CPI) event to validate a proof of concept for push logistics using food service replenishment as a prototype for other classes of supply. When asked about development of a subsistence push logistics system, NAVSUP Food Director Lt. Cmdr. Scott Wilson stated, “We are cognizant of the electromagnetic maneuver warfare challenges the food service enterprise faces. To that end, we are leveraging our current capabilities to adapt the way we do business in a C2D2E.”

Co-chaired by U.S. Fleet Forces and U.S. Pacific Fleet, the CPI event included critical stakeholder representation from all type commands, NAVSUP, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Troop Support, and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center. Since the signing of the event’s charter in May 2016, this dedicated group has accomplished the following:

  • Established a fleet-wide 14-day battle menu, derived from the existing 21-day Navy Standard Core Menu, that emphasizes shelf stable products, incorporates scratch cooking methodologies, and consolidates the total number of supporting subsistence line items to optimize the range and depth of Military Sealift Command (MSC) inventory.
  • Developed and piloted an adequate and scalable subsistence push pack able to sustain combat forces for a minimum of 180 days.
  • Identified and implemented modifications to doctrine, policy, statute, contracts, systems, and processes ensuring continuity of food service operations to outside the continental United States operating forces of the 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th Fleets via the Global Logistics Network when Phase 0 pathways for communication and traditional resupply are unavailable.
  • Incorporated best practices into fleet training venues and war games, and additionally, this group of subject matter experts identified solutions for a multitude of other pressing food service issues, to include:
    • Establishment of a primary stock number ordering system that will streamline the subsistence ordering process; drastically reducing culinary specialist workload afloat, resolve subsistence prime vendor (SPV) catalog issues due to Navy Information Application Product Suite replication failure, and address Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness compliance for Consolidated Afloat Requisitioning Guide Overseas (CARGO) food orders.
    • Enabling CONUS SPV support to forward locations; specifically aligning MSC information systems (ShipClip/Combat Logistics Force Load Management System) with DLA’s Deployable Distribution Center concept.
    • Establishment of an expanded CARGO deployment and distribution model enabled through system change requests addressing the FSM program’s ability to accept suffixed requisition receipts and STORESWEB (DLA electronic SPV ordering point) ability to accept referred requisitions.

As stated in Navy Warfare Publication (NWP) 4-0, naval logistics operations today are conducted much the same in peace as in war; during all phases of operations, the four elements of the logistics process; acquisition, distribution, sustainment, and disposition, must be maintained. Additionally, logistics provides a vital link between national-strategic resources (the economy) and its tactical units. During peacetime, when communications and distribution channels are stable and assured, the link between the tactical unit and strategic apparatus is near direct; however in a C2D2 environment, this link can be challenged, specifically by near-peer competitors with the capability to deny access to the electro-magnetic spectrum or disrupt standard logistics information systems. As such, logisticians must understand how changes in any environment domain will affect the processes, procedures, and capabilities they rely on to execute their sustainment mission for which the concept of operations and training developed from this event will serve as the foundation.

The Subsistence Support in a Communications Denied Environment CPI Team has distinguished itself as an exceptional planning cell capable of achieving high velocity learning and bold innovation. Operating as masterful change agents and recognizing looming security threats that will challenge and stress existing subsistence support models, these logisticians created a new subsistence support structure that will ensure continuity of food service operations while addressing existing policy and information system constraints. Embodying the CNO’s guidance to strengthening naval power at and from the sea, their efforts demonstrate logistics as a warfighting principle and directly support emerging fleet designs. Provided the success of this group, Chief of the Supply Corps Rear Adm. Jonathan Yuen named the subsistence support in a C2D2E model, the standard other commodities should emulate when establishing push-logistics process in his 2017 Strategic Guidance.

July/August 2017